Medical journal Thorax published a study this week that claimed four portions of processed or cured meat, such as bacon, ham or salami, could spark asthma attacks among sufferers. The study, which said the nitrites in cured meat products could inflame airways and trigger attacks, made headlines around the world but the meat industry, particularly NAMI, has roundly dismissed the “inaccurate” study.
Barry Carpenter, CEO of NAMI, said the study’s reliance on participants’ memories of what they consumed may have provided “notoriously inaccurate” data.
The French study tracked the diets of close to 1,000 people for an average of six years, concluding there was a direct correlation between increased cured meat consumption and worsening asthma symptoms.
Thorax researchers said it could be the preservative nitrite that was to blame for aggravating asthma symptoms amongst the study’s participants.
However, Carpenter strongly disagrees with the findings and has called the assertion that nitrites are to blame as a “reckless suggestion” that lacks clinical accuracy.
“Nitrite is a vasodilator and a bronchodilator that helps with asthma, pulmonary hypertension, cystic fibrosis and COPD [(chronic obstructive pulmonary disease],” Carpenter said.
He added: “These researchers likely are well intentioned, but their purported findings come down to this: some people who enjoy cured meats also get asthma. But blaming one for the other without real, clinical proof is like blaming the rooster’s crowing for the sun coming up. Just because they are associated, doesn’t mean one caused the other.”
Separate study says meat is good
With the controversy over the study in France dominating headlines, separate research by Purdue University in the US has concluded eating more red meat does not hurt your hurt.
The study found that there was no scientific evidence that proved cutting red meat consumption helped reduce short-term heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure or cholesterol.
Researchers at the University of Purdue said consuming more than half a serving of unprocessed red meat per day, equivalent to a three-ounce serving three times per week, did not increase blood pressure.
“During the last 20 years, there have been recommendations to eat less red meat as part of a healthier diet, but our research supports that red meat can be incorporated into a healthier diet,” said Wayne Campbell, professor of nutrition science.